Whether you are hitting a trail on your mountain bike or racing through the streets on your road bike, few things compare to the joy of a good day of cycling. But to have good bike days, it’s essential to keep your bike well maintained—especially when it comes to your brakes, which may lead you to wonder: how long do disc brake pads last?
You can generally expect to get 500-700 miles out of resin disc brake pads and 1,000-1,250 miles out of sintered metal disc brake pads. However, how much mileage you end up getting out of your disc brake pads will depend on the weather conditions you ride in, riding terrain, and your braking habits.
Whether you want your current bike’s disc brake pads to last longer or feel it may be time to get them replaced, keep reading. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about disc brake pad durability and replacement.
Factors that Affect Disc Brake Pad Lifespan
Although bike disc brake pads can have an average lifespan of 500 to 1250 miles, several factors will determine how long they’ll actually last, including the type of brakes used, the terrain and weather conditions you usually ride with, and how you brake.
Type of Disc Brake Pads
There are two main types of bike disc brake pads: organic and sintered.
Organic disc brake pads tend to wear out faster, which can prove a safety risk when riding on brake pads near the end of their lifespan.
Metallic, sintered disc brake pads, on the other hand, have a reputation for going the extra mile and have been known to do their riders justice even after their prescribed expiration date.
It comes as a no-brainer that the rougher your riding terrain, the faster you can expect your bike’s disc brake pads to wear out; this is due to the extreme strain on brakes while riding on trails.
You’ll find that mountain bikes tend to require more brake use than road bikes due to the bumpy terrain they’re frequently used on, therefore needing brake replacement much sooner than their counterpart.
Rain or shine, it’s hard to keep an active cyclist indoors. With that said, you should keep in mind that certain disc brake pads will function better and last longer based on the weather conditions or climate you ride in.
With cycling technology advancing, snowy winters are small obstacles standing in the way of your bike ride. To ensure you have a smooth and safe ride, certain disc brake pads respond better to this time of year:
- At -15 degrees Fahrenheit, hydraulic disc brake pads have proven themselves worthy of having the best functionality.
- At -30 degrees Fahrenheit, however, mechanical, organic disc brake pads do the job better.
Note: When you use hydraulic disc brake pads in icy conditions, the brake system’s mineral oil begins to degrade. Ensure you have the oil replaced regularly during this time of year if you plan on riding often.
When you are slamming on your bicycle brakes regularly, heat friction arises—no matter how hot the weather is outside. However, with a hot climate, this effect multiplies, which amounts to more damage being done to your disc brake pads.
Organic resin pads struggle under extreme heat and friction, resulting in faster degradation of your disc brakes, limiting your stopping power. Instead, opt for sintered metallic disc brake pads, which have been proven to be much better for use in hot climates and rougher terrains.
Note: If you are biking year-round in polarized climates, switching between the appropriate brake pads is the best way to get the most out of your disc brakes.
Some riders can cause enough wear and tear on their disc brakes to need replacing in as little as a couple of hundred miles; this is due to constant brake use, which can often be extremely abrupt and strenuous on your brake pads.
If you want your bike’s brake pads to last longer, consider these braking tips:
- Avoid leaning forward while braking. Instead, shift your weight so that you’re vertical or slightly leaning back; this will eliminate any pressure on your front brake.
- If you need to slow down to make turns, rather than use the brake, drop your hands and body a little lower on the bike to reduce your speed as you approach. If you must brake, only do so lightly and slowly.
- During rainy conditions, a light press on the brake should be sufficient. Start slowing down earlier to ease the pressure on your tires and brakes, just like how you would drive a typical car in the rain.
When to Change Disc Brake Pads
It can be a tough call in deciding when to change your disc brake pads. While the timing may vary depending on whether you are riding a mountain bike or a road bike, to keep yourself safe, it’s best to change up your disc brake pads when they reach a thickness of 1.5mm.
While this is a general rule of thumb, you may be able to push your disc brake pads a bit more depending on whether you are using organic or sintered pads. We advise checking the condition of your brake pads regularly—especially before a long ride or trail.
Where to Get Disc Brake Pads
If you are on the hunt to replace your disc brake pads, you will find the internet and your local bike shop has got your back.
Online Disc Brake Pads
Online options are suitable for finding competitive prices for riders who have hands-on experience with bike maintenance and know exactly what they are looking for. Using an online resource such as Amazon is a great place to start looking for a quick, easy solution to purchasing a new set of brake disc pads for your bike.
However, if you are not adept with bike mechanics and want to support a local business, going to your nearby bike shop is probably the best way to go.
Bike Shop Disc Brake Pads
When dealing with a local bike shop, you can have a professional bike mechanic install your disc brake pads and feel assured that the job was done right—saving the hassle of getting your hands dirty and feeling confident that your next ride will be a safe one.
Another benefit of going to a bike mechanic is that they can educate you on your brake pad options to choose the right product for your riding needs.
How Much Do Disc Brake Pads Cost?
What you can expect to pay for disc brake pads can vary depending on the type of brake pad you opt for and where you get it.
- If you are on a budget, non-cartridge pads are the most affordable and straightforward option for you. There is no reason to avoid replacing your disc brake pads thanks to brands like Hot Top, which have brake pads available for as little as $7.00.
- Cartridge pads are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to cost and quality. You can find pads from well-respected brands like Shimano costing as little as $10, which makes finding a replacement for cartridge brakes within financial reach of every cyclist. However, finding high-performance cartridge pads from $20+ is likely from brands like TRP.
Additionally, if you decide you want to have a professional replace your brake pads for you, you will need to factor in those costs. The average price for this is $35 to over $200, depending on the shop and the types of brakes you want to have installed; this cost may include the price of parts, plus labor and assembly.
Although purchasing a new set of brake pads from your local bike shop may cost more than the online route, you could alternatively buy the brake pads online then have them installed at a shop to save a little money.
No matter your budget, finding a brake disc pad for your bicycle will not cause much strain on your wallet. However, it’s best not to settle for less when it comes to your brake pads and go with a reliable manufacturer.
If you are riding on resin disc brake pads, you can expect to get 500-700 miles before needing to change them, and if you are using metallic, sintered brake pads, 1,000-1,250 miles is the usual lifespan.
While this is an estimate for an average rider, the mileage you actually end up getting out of your brake disc pads will significantly vary depending on your riding terrain, riding style, as well as your local climate.